Seeking the Write Life Balance

The "writer's lifestyle" as imagined through Anthropologie catalogs and biographies of downwardly mobile trustafarians of the early 20th century has been thoroughly debunked by real-life author Rosalie Knecht for any aspiring writers out there who don't know what professional writers' lives are actually like. So what does it look like for a regular person of this century to live the life of a writer? I'm still working it out for myself.

As far as I can tell, writers' lifestyles are crazy quilts of figuring out how to live life while writing about life while supporting life with a reliable income, usually in the form of an unglamorous day job.

My own life is an act of balancing five core needs, in no particular order:
  • to write novels
  • to do meaningful work in exchange for a living wage
  • to experience life, especially with my family and friends
  • to take care of the home where I live with boring chores and upkeep
  • to maintain good health, because I can't do any of the above very well while sick or dead
It helps me to keep a holistic view of my life, recognizing that none of these needs can be fulfilled without the others. I try to integrate them as much as possible so that they aren't competing as much for my time and energy. This does not mean multi-tasking (as in, taking a phone call at family dinner with a kid howling in the background). It means layering the shimmies on top of the hip drops while dancing to one song at a time. Or, to use a literal example, finding ways to have fun with my daughter that are also good exercise. Or good nutrition (cooking together). Or educational (reading books together).

To write good prose, I make sure I have interesting life experiences like a wacky job, hilarious friends and colleagues, creative quality time with my family, inspiring spaces to write at home, and what the new kids call "self-care," which means treating your body and mind like you want them to keep functioning.

Right now, for me, that means starting most days with dank Fair Trade, organic espresso and a YouTube workout on my huge TV screen taught by an instructor filmed on a gorgeous tropical beach. It means respecting the value of my own time and attention throughout the day so that I can focus as deeply as possible on each task in front of me, whether it's fixing a frustrating technical issue at work or hammocking with my family at the park.

So I guess the writer's lifestyle is any lifestyle that gets a writer's physical needs provided, soul fed, and mind kept sharp. And until we become so successful at marketing our wares that we can not only quit our day jobs but hire a staff to adult for us, the writer's lifestyle looks the eclectic hustle of every literate human who wants to live the dream and tell the tale. What does yours look like?

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